Written answers

Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Photo of Brendan GriffinBrendan Griffin (Kerry, Fine Gael)
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175. To ask the Minister for Health if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the Fair Deal Scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15130/22]

Photo of Mary ButlerMary Butler (Waterford, Fianna Fail)
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The Nursing Home Support Scheme (NHSS), commonly referred to as 'Fair Deal', is a system of financial support for people who require long-term residential care. The primary legislation underpinning the NHSS is the Nursing Home Support Scheme Act 2009. Participants in the NHSS contribute to the cost of their care according to their means while the State pays the balance of the cost. The Scheme aims to ensure that long-term nursing home care is accessible and affordable for everyone and that people are cared for in the most appropriate settings.

Funding to support people to access services in the sector continues to be provided in line with the long-established statutory mechanisms under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009. This is the mechanism established by the Oireachtas to provide for the processes relating to funding under the NHSS and the negotiation of prices for services for private and voluntary providers with the designated State agency, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). Accordingly, the NTPF does not discuss publicly the details of negotiations with individual nursing homes. Neither Ministers nor the Department have a role in individual price negotiations.

The Department of Health has also provided significant specific supports to the private and voluntary nursing home sector over the course of the pandemic. As you are aware, the COVID-19 Temporary Assistance Payment Scheme, also known as TAPS, was established as part of a package of support measures for nursing homes at the start of the pandemic. €134.5 million was made available under the scheme from March 2020 to June 2021. The outbreak assistance element of the scheme is still in payment. In addition to TAPS, direct support has been provided by the HSE to private nursing homes in many areas, including the provision of PPE, serial testing and support with staffing.

The Department published a review of the NTPF pricing system in June 2021. This review was conducted by the NTPF with input from stakeholders and external experts. It recommended several actions to improve the pricing system. These are now being taken forward by the Department and NTPF. Given the size and scope of the NHSS, which is expected to cost the State more than €1.04 billion this year, any changes must be delivered carefully and with due consideration to their impact and any unexpected consequences.

The department is also taking forward the 9 recommendations of the Value for Money Review on Nursing Home Costs, which was published in December 2021. The purpose of the VFM Review was to identify, quantify and analyse the reasons for any cost differential between private/voluntary and public nursing homes and, following analysis, to make recommendations for improving the value for money obtained by the Health sector.


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